Awaiting Joy

The_Joy_of_SongI  feel deeply blessed, for I have had the opportunity to learn from, and work with, shamans and healers from many traditions and parts of the world. At the center of their practices and lives is the necessity of speaking up for those who have lost voice, including the Earth; feeding, clothing, and educating those who cannot do so for themselves; and awakening joy in oneself and those whose lives we touch.  They showed me that kindness, gratitude, and Joy are the sacred heart of living and healing. I am profoundly grateful. Continue reading

Caring for Earth: A Gift and A Burden

Winter BerriesIt has been snowing, intermittently, for most of the past week. We have also experienced freezing rain, sleet, and, very briefly, just plain rain. It is warm, compared to the historical norm, resulting in the periods of mixed precipitation rather than just snow. Had it been all snow we would be housebound.

I’m sitting by the wood stove. It took a while to get it roaring; now the heat is finally taking the chill from the house. I appreciate the deep warmth that comes from burning wood, and the high-efficiency of this stove; we get warmth while using relatively little fuel. The dancing flames are a bonus.

My parents remembered the winter evenings of their youth, spent by open hearths, with fondness. Stoves and fire places were not efficient; they required many chords of wood be gathered, split, and stacked each year. Families carefully managed their lands, maintaining the health of the trees, water, and soil upon which their lives depended. To run out of wood for cooking and heat was to suffer, and in winter, to risk death. Gifted persons felt and respected the pulse of the land, dreaming the flow of energy and information through the biosphere; this helped them survive difficult times. Continue reading

Advent: Waiting with Mary

Snow_Heavy_BoughsToday is the third Sunday in Advent. Now the nights are long, and snow covers the ground and bends down the trees. The cold has settled in. These are the conditions that are celebrated in carols and text at Christmastide. They are also the imagined context for Mary’s long journey of pregnancy, and , with Joseph, to Bethlehem. Continue reading

Advent

SnowfallToday marks the second Sunday in Advent. Yesterday was a day of rain and snow, with temperatures in the mid-thirties. This morning is cold with broken cloud. As I type the snow line is working its way down the mountains.Last night darkness fell early, even by our northerly standards, giving us a taste of how short the days must have seemed to the early European Christians. Surely they readily drew parallels between their traditional concerns with the waning sun, and the new religion’s focus on the brightly shining son of god. Were not they somehow the same, at least in metaphor and experience?  Continue reading

Polios, Natives, and Broken Promises

Early_Winter_RiverI’ve been thinking about broken promises. My parents thought about them a good deal, expected them. Lately, I’ve learned to expect them as well.

I developed Polio in the later summer of 1955, shortly before my eighth birthday. Polio was, and in spite of a worldwide eradication campaign, continues to be a virus that attacks the human central nervous system, often with devastating results including paralysis and death. I was in hospital for more than three months; during the critical portion of the illness, an iron lung literally breathed for me. Luckily, I was in a military hospital and received the best available care, care that save my life. Unlike some of my friends I walked out of the hospital, abet with braces and a marked limp. Continue reading

A Season of Stories

The first snow has come and gone, a story filled with treacherous roads and power outages. Thursday we drove through snow packed mountains on our way to Thanksgiving dinner, a classic “white knuckle” drive even though the snow had ceased to fall. Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, and this afternoon I put aside work and began putting up the outdoor seasonal lights. Continue reading

Ghosts

Autumn WoodsEvery now and again I meet a ghost, a spirit that has, for whatever reason, not moved on after death. Maybe sometimes I can be helpful to them. Natives are perceived as have a long relationship to the spirits, as being engaged on a day-to-day basis with family and Ancestors who have passed on. (This is lived experience, trope in Indigenous lit, and stereotype.) Sometimes we are connected to the spirits, although we have no monopoly on it; often enough this contact is comforting. The other night my dad came in a dream; he just hung out, seemingly interested in whatever I am doing, and wanting me to know he is engaged and well. Continue reading